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4.16.2018

Refuge of the Heart ~ Spotlight and Giveaway link

Photo by Just Commonly
Refuge of the Heart
By Ruth Logan Herne

District Attorney Mitchell Sanderson wanted for nothing and lost everything in a tragic accident. A dogged worker, Mitch’s conviction rate earned him respect and trust. Now up for re-election, Mitch’s law-and-order persona makes him a shoo-in candidate. But when faith, conscience and love of a troubled refugee ripple the smooth waters of his existence, can Mitch risk everything for love?
Magdalena Serida fought her way out of the terrors of a government-quelled insurgent uprising in Chechnya. The church-sponsored refugee knows the horrors of war first-hand. Now in America with her five-year-old sister, Lena is uncertain who to trust. Her Christian faith has maintained her through the loss of her family, but when Mitch Sanderson shows interest, Lena longs to take a chance. Should she open herself up to this man of law and order, a man who imprisons women like her? Or slip quietly back into the shadowed fringe of anonymity?
But choices slip away when Mitch’s friend spews half-truths about Lena, rumors that cost Mitch his new love and possibly the election. Can he find his way to a faith deep enough to love again, and to offer Lena the refuge of his heart?


( One U.S. winner will win a prize pack from the author!)

4.14.2018

How Democracies Die ~ Review

How Democracies Die 
by Steven Levitsky 
   and Daniel Ziblatt

This book explores the state of our democracy in today's current political unrest. Our democracy is teetering on the edge but this wasn't a sudden situation but rather one that has been building over the last couple decades. But how did we get to this point? And can we pull back from the edge before it is too late?

How Democracies Die looks at other countries who have found themselves in a similar state. Efforts to restore democratic leadership only works if the rules of law are followed. Attempts to wrest government controls by other means paint those behind it as anti-democratic rather than defenders of democracy. Lines of communication must be opened between the partisan camps to reverse our further descent into the political circus that is becoming the norm. Is any one side more to blame than the other? Or is it a collaborative effort of those who are more focused on self rather than the whole?  

This book is an interesting and thoughtful work. Those who have a love of political science and want to delve into the current situations both here and abroad will want to have this book in their personal library. Those who are homeschooling will want this book when studying government in high school. This book doesn't descend into rumor and innuendo but rather looks at facts and historical records. 

I was provided a copy of this book by Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:
Donald Trump’s presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we’d be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang—in a revolution or military coup—but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one.

Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies die—and how ours can be saved.

4.12.2018

I Can Only Imagine ~ Review

I Can Only Imagine (Picture Book)
A Friendship with Jesus Now and Forever
By Bart Millard with Laura Neutzling
Illustrated by Sumiti Collina 

What is Heaven like? What does God do? Have you ever wondered this? With natural curiosity, most have at one time or another wondered about that which cannot be seen.  I Can Only Imagine is just such a wondering. 
 
I Can Only Imagine has a wonderful flowing rhythm that paired with the illustrations offers the reader a soothing and peaceful story that allows the message of the book to be absorbed more fully. 

When reading this book I was reminded of the passage from John 14, specifically verse 3, "I go to prepare a place for you..." And this wondering and imagining of just what this place in Heaven is like is expressed here. This book is the perfect read for bedtime or just a snuggle time together in a favorite chair. 

There are 21 pages of text with a few additional pages that are just illustrations so it is a good length for shorter attention spans and yet not too short. The illustrations are colorful and cover an array of settings both indoors and out, day and night. I Can Only Imagine is one book you will want to share with all the young readers in your life opening up their minds to their own imaginings.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the Book:
Encourage your children’s sense of wonder and faith with I Can Only Imagine, inspired by the hit song by MercyMe. This beautiful picture book will capture your family’s childlike faith and imagination.
I Can Only Imagine asks questions a child might ask and invites families to wonder together: What is heaven like? What does God do? What would it be like to spend a day with Jesus? Children will see that although experiencing the glory of heaven may be far off, we can enjoy a friendship with Jesus every day - right here on earth. Whimsical, playful illustrations and thought-provoking questions make this a book that families will cherish.
Fun and vibrant illustrations offer a vivid visual and will help your children see that God can be found everywhere, every day.
I think about heaven as I look up at the sky
And watch the fluffy clouds roll by.
The more I imagine, the more I wish I knew.
I wonder, would God like pancakes with extra syrup too?
And if God and I spent the day together, what exactly would we do?

The Christian worship song “I Can Only Imagine” touched countless lives with its glorious representation of being in the presence of God, and this beautifully illustrated picture book invites you and your children to imagine those same wonders. Share the joy of a personal relationship with the Lord with your family today through the creative, faith-filled book I Can Only Imagine.

4.11.2018

A Refuge Assured ~ Review

A Refuge Assured
By Jocelyn Green

Vivienne Rivard's profession has marked her. Her skill in lacemaking has linked her to the France Monarchy. And at this time of revolution and unrest, this very skill could see her before the guillotine. But with familial ties keeping her in Paris, each day could very well be the one that sees her life ending. But when her ties are cut, Vivienne must flee the land of her birth. Joining the exodus of French refugees she finds herself in America, a land known for its own revolution just years before.

But this land in which she seeks peace and refuge is suffering its own pains. Freedom hasn't come to mean the same thing to all who call America home. Some have found themselves facing yet again unfair taxation - taxation that is proving oppressive. Having served with Washington and Hamilton during the War for Independence Liam Delaney can see both sides of the issue but with his family being worn down by the Whiskey Tax he has sympathies with their plight. And the useless French nobility that has descended upon the country tries him and he groups Vivienne in with them. But soon he realizes that Vivienne is more than he first assumed.

A Refugee Assured introduces the reader to a lesser known period of American history when liberty was experiencing some bumps in the road. The needs of the nation were at times at odds with the people who helped bring it into being. The Whiskey Rebellion which is explored here sees taxation upon goods that have been made but not yet sold or traded. It is interesting to see that the issues that were at the heart of conflict here are often the same issues that play a part in today's world.

There is a touch of a mystery surrounding a young boy whom Vivienne assumes responsibility for. Is he or isn't he the young prince Louis-Charles? This very intrigue places the life of Vivienne and those around her in danger as those who support the Revolution take an interest in her and her young charge. Those who read The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz will enjoy this book that focuses on a young woman who is skilled in the art of making lace whose very world is shaken to its core.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher Bethany House through their blogger program with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.


About the Book:
Fleeing One Revolution to the Aftermath of Another, 

She Seeks and Dreams of Peace

Lacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia, but danger lurks in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers begin to suspect a young boy left in her care might be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement Asylum offer permanent refuge?

Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate his hard-won farm near Asylum, but he soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they are drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.

Hurricane Season ~ Review

Hurricane Season
By Lauren K. Denton

Betsy and Jenna are as different as their lives are. The bond that they had had as children has somehow loosened over time. Betsy has always been the steady dependable one and Jenna has been the free-spirit whose intentions are good but always go awry.

Betsy and her husband Ty have taken over his family's dairy farm in Alabama and life to most appears pretty good, but a secret pain haunts their marriage - their lack of children. And this pain is placing a strain on their marriage.

Jenna finds herself working in a Nashville coffee shop working to make a life for herself and her two young daughters. Filling coffee orders was never her goal rather her passion tended to art and moments captured by the camera lens. But her passion has taken a backseat to real life.

But this summer everything is about to change when Jenna is offered a once in a lifetime opportunity - an exclusive artist retreat in Florida. With no one else to turn to Jenna reaches out to Betsy. But the two weeks that Betsy and Ty would be watching Jenna's girls grows further into the summer. Addie and Walsh though delightful add an additional strain to Betsy and Ty's marriage. And their presence further spotlights Betsy's deficiencies in the maternal factor - at least in her self-estimation, it does.

This summer is a chance for Betsy and Jenna to discover who they truly are and just what price they are willing to pay to achieve their dreams. And they just may learn that sometimes dreams must change to fit the life one has. The title Hurricane Season well suits this story as the possibility of a hurricane is an ever-present tension and it even in a sense describes the lives of those who grace these pages.

This is a book that explores the bonds of family, friendship, and love and holds them together over the years or lets them fall away. This is an enjoyable read that those who love to read fiction with a true-to-life feel to it will readily be drawn into. As the story progresses the reader is allowed glimpses into the past thus gaining insights into how Jenna, Betsy, and Ty have come to where we now find them. The book ends on a positive note for the future and leaves it to the reader's own imaginings. This would be an excellent bookclub choice for the upcoming summer months.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher through TLC Book Tours with the no expectations of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own


About the Book:

From the author of the USA Today bestseller The Hideaway 


comes another story of families and mending the past.

Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have long since buried their desire for children of their own. While Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget her dream of motherhood. But when her free-spirited sister, Jenna, drops off her two young daughters for “just two weeks,” Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

As the two weeks stretch deeper into the Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world—and revel in the laughter that now fills their home. Meanwhile, record temperatures promise to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

Attending an art retreat four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She finally has time and energy to focus on her photography, a lifelong ambition. But she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home as a single mom.

When Hurricane Ingrid aims a steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that will change her family’s future, even as Betsy and Ty try to protect their beloved farm and their hearts. Hurricane Season is the story of one family’s unconventional journey to healing—and the relationships that must be mended along the way.



Purchase Links:




Connect with Lauren





Lauren K. Denton’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Instagram Tour:
Monday, April 2nd: @createexploreread
Tuesday, April 3rd: @prose_and_palate
Wednesday, April 4th: @mrs.literarylovely
Thursday, April 5th: @read.write.coffee
Friday, April 6th: @bookishconnoisseur
Saturday, April 7th: @booknerdnative
Sunday, April 8th: @thecaffeinatedbibliophile

Review Tour:
Monday, April 2nd: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, April 3rd: Write Read Life
Wednesday, April 4th: Just One More Chapter
Thursday, April 5th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, April 6th: Openly Bookish
Monday, April 9th: Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, April 10th: By the Book
Wednesday, April 11th: Blooming with Books
Thursday, April 12th: Empowermoms
Thursday, April 12th: Laura’s Reviews
Friday, April 13th: 5 Minutes for Books
Monday, April 16th: Books & Bindings
Tuesday, April 17th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, April 18th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Thursday, April 19th: Midwest Ladies Who Lit
Friday, April 20th: Reviews from the Heart
Monday, April 23rd: The Sketchy Reader
Tuesday, April 24th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Wednesday, April 25th: Eliot’s Eats
Wednesday, April 25th: Splashes of Joy
Thursday, April 26th: Girl Who Reads
Friday, April 27th: View from the Birdhouse
Monday, April 3oth: What is That Book About

4.10.2018

Progeny ~ Spotlight and Interview with Giveaway



Book Details:

Book Title: The Progeny: A Novel by Tosca Lee
Series: Descendants of the House of Bathory (Book #1)
Category: YA Fiction, 352 pages
Genre: Thriller, (YA-leaning), Slight paranormal
Publisher: Howard Books
Release date: May 2016
Tour dates: March 26 to April 13, 2018
Content Rating: PG









Book Description:

From New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee comes a story of love, ancient secrets, and survival. Book 1 in the House of Bathory duology.

When you wake up, you remember nothing. Not your name, or where you were born, or the faces of the people you knew. Just a single warning written to yourself before you forgot it all:

"Emily, it’s me. You.

Don’t ask about the last two years… Don’t try to remember and don’t go digging. Your life depends on it. Other lives depend on it.

By the way, Emily isn’t your real name. You died in an accident. You paid extra for that."

You start over in a remote place with a new name, a fresh life. Until the day a stranger tells you you’re being hunted for the sins of a royal ancestor who died centuries before you were born.

You don’t believe him, until they come for you. Now you’re on the run.

Every answer you need lies in a past you chose to erase. The only thing you know for sure is that others are about to die and you need those memories back.

But first, you have to stay alive.




Praise for The Progeny:

"Be warned: once you start this book, it’s impossible to put down!”
- Maria V. Snyder, New York Times bestselling author of Poison Study

“Intriguing and romantic, I literally couldn’t put it down.”
- Jennifer L. Armentrout # 1 New York Times bestselling author

"Irresistible..."
- Publishers Weekly

"[A] complex thriller with various turns and twists...A great choice for readers who enjoy their psychological thrillers with a historical twist."
- Library Journal

"Exciting...action-packed…intriguing.”
- Romantic Times Book Reviews

"Filled with intrigue, romance, and reversals fans are sure to love."
- Family Fiction

"The Progeny has risen to the top of my favorites list…I devoured every word of it.”
- Book Reporter



Buy the Book:




Begin Reading Now!
EXCERPT:


The Center

No one speaks when you enter the Center for the last time. There’s no need. You’ve gone through the counseling, tests, and a checklist of preparations to get the plastic bracelet you wear the day of treatment. The one that saves a life. They don’t need to know why you’re doing it any more. Or that you lied about it all. Just the scratch of the stylus as you sign your name on the screen one last time.

A nurse takes me into a room and I lie down on the table. I give her the sealed packet—the only thing I brought with me. There’s cash, meds, and an address inside, the one for “after.” It’s a thousand miles away. She’ll pass it to the companion assigned to me. No point meeting her now.

I’m 21 years old and my name doesn’t matter because it’s about to be erased forever. I’m choosing to forget the ones I love, and myself, in the process.

They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die. But they don’t tell you that every detail comes screaming back to life. That you taste each bite of every meal you savored, feel the shower of every rain you walked in… smell the hair against your cheek before that last, parting kiss. That you will fight to hold on to every memory like a drowning person gasping for poisoned air.

Then everything you knew is gone. And you are still alive.

For now.

Continue reading the first four chapters FREE.


Meet the Author:


"Superior storytelling." - Publishers Weekly

"One of the most gifted novelists writing today." -Steven James, bestselling author

Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of the House of Bathory Duology (The Progeny and Firstborn, currently in development for television),Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker (Forbidden, Mortal, Sovereign). A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games and football with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband.

You can find Tosca at ToscaLee.com, on social media, or hanging around the snack table. (And be sure to check out Ismeni, the free e-short prequel to The Legend of Sheba!)

Get your copy of The Progeny here: http://toscalee.com/product/the-progeny/ (Kindle readers: now you can enjoy special insights in the author’s highlighted comments!)

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest

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Author Q and A with Tosca Lee:


1) What is your favorite method of book brainstorming? A random comment, a thought, a dream, or…? 

It starts with something that really interests me, or, as in the case of The Progeny and my novel, Iscariot, a figure someone asked me to write about (Judas Iscariot and Elizabeth Bathory). From there, I have a few trusted favorite author friends I turn to for brainstorming plots—and my husband, who is an awesome brainstormer!


2) Did you always want to write or did you see a different future for yourself?

Growing up, I was very serious about ballet until injuries and other factors sidelined that dream. A few years later, while home from Smith College on spring break and talking about books with my dad, I blurted out the words, “I think I want to write a novel.” He made me a deal: he’d pay me what I would have made working at the bank as a teller that coming summer if I spent summer vacation writing a novel full-time. I wrote my first novel that year. (It wasn’t very good. ;D)


3) What is your go-to genre for your personal reading?

Gosh, it could be anything—from thrillers to historical, romance, young adult, or non-fiction.


4) Do you see yourself in certain characters that live within your books?

I do. Especially Audra in The Progeny. As someone with OCD, I truly identify with her fixations and her attention to detail.


5) Do you wish you were more like a certain character that you have brought to life? And if so what traits do you most admire in this character?

The traits I admire in all my characters are their intelligence and their tenacity. That said, I don’t envy them because I always put them through the wringer in my stories!

6) Do you have more books in this series and if so how many? Or do you have another world that you want to share with your fans instead?

The sequel and conclusion to The Progeny, Firstborn, is out now! Meanwhile, I’ve written a whole new thriller that releases January 2019.


7) What is the one question you wish was asked during an interview and how would you answer it?
“What do you want to say to readers and your fans?"

The answer: “I love and appreciate you guys so much! Thank you for putting your faith in authors like me! And now, let me take you away from here. Leave the world you know behind—I’ve written this story just for you.”

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Enter the Giveaway!
Ends April 21, 2018


a Rafflecopter giveaway




4.09.2018

The Golden Vial ~ Review

The Golden Vial
Legends of the Realm #3
By Thomas Locke

Something is coming to the Three Valleys and Dally is able to sense it. Orphaned when the fiends attacked her home killing her parents and brothers, Dally has always been isolated in her home village. But her long-held secret gift is what may save the realm from the ancient evil that has decided to return.

Hyam has succumbed to an illness that none knows how to treat or even slow. And unless action is soon undertaken Hyam will soon die and the realm will fall. Hoping to stem this tide Queen Shona is lead to travel to the Three Valleys in an attempt to halt the enemies progress.

It is for this time that Dally's gifts are needed and in her untrained state, she needs all the help she can get especially when her gifts seem to be draining her and her own life is in danger.

The Golden Vial is a book one is drawn into from the opening line. Though it is the third book in the series one can easily follow it as this time Dally is the main focus of the story. Hyam is not the main character though his presence is a motivating factor that helps propel the story along. One can easily identify with Dally from the beginning. There are characters from the previous two books who take an active role throughout and it is interesting to see the interaction between them and Dally.

I for one personally hope for many more books in this series that can capture one attention from cover to cover. The Golden Vial most definitely leaves this reader in hope of another book and it can't come too soon.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.


About the Book:
When a hidden evil threatens to destroy the realm, 
a young orphan, untested and untrained, 
could mean the difference between victory and total defeat.

Vulnerable and weakened by grief after a terrible loss, Hyam has been struck by a mysterious illness that threatens to claim his life. Seeking to help Hyam and restore the realm, Queen Shona travels to Hyam's remote hometown to find answers and offer aid.

Dally has always had abilities far beyond those of a normal human--far-seeing and magic come naturally to her. Before the arrival of Shona and her army, Dally had always kept her abilities secret. But with an ancient evil bearing down on her village and the fate of the realm hanging in the balance, the orphaned servant girl steps forward to do what no one else can. Will the battle claim more than Dally is willing to give?